|New Zealand, Milford Sound|
As our airplane approached Queenstown, we marveled at the surrounding snow-capped mountains. As we procured our rental car, the agent casually said, “Oh, you are lucky to have landed. They often divert to Christchurch due to the weather.” Having heard about the terrible floods that had been ravaging the South Island in the prior weeks, I had been monitoring the weather and relieved that we had some partly sunny days ahead of us. Given the unforeseen weather, I had also kept our itinerary loosely planned for our five days in Queenstown, which makes for a great home base for many of the South Island’s sites.
|Otago Wine Trail|
|Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge|
|Drive to Milford Sound|
|Milford Sound cruise|
|Milford Sound waterfall|
For a shorter day trip from Queenstown we did the 90 minute drive over to Lake Wanaka. It was one of the busier lakes with swimmers, kayakers, jet skiers, boaters, and parasailers. Tired from our previous two days, we kept it simple with a beach take-out lunch and a lakeside walk. Plus, we needed to conserve our energy to stay up for the New Year’s Eve Queenstown activities. After happy hour on our balcony, we walked down into town around 7 pm when we heard the music begin. There were local bands playing to an enthusiastic, mostly middle age with children crowd. We found it to be a very “sane” New Year’s celebration but perhaps it was still early. We headed back to our AirB&B for dinner and balcony viewing of the fireworks at midnight, and we wished our family and friends a Happy New Year 18-21 hours before the U.S. would celebrate.
|Mount Cook Visitor Centre|
|Hooker Valley track|
|Hooker Valley hike destination with view of Mount Cook|
|Lupines and Lake Pukaki|
Our time had come to make the final drive to Christchurch to catch our plane home. We left New Zealand wondering why we had never had it on our bucket list. Its people, beaches, mountains and activities afforded us a lifetime of memories and a reminder why we travel.
Related articles and links:
For more information about New Zealand’s amazing Great Rides cycling initiative and an in depth look at all of our New Zealand biking adventures, visit my “Great Riding” articles on my Swim Bike Run Survive blog.
For an in depth look at the Milford Sound, check out Owen Floody’s three part series.
Our South Island accommodations included:
Queenstown – 5 nights in a large apartment with lake views
Twizel – 2 nights in a B&B with small farm